A-Level Sociology - Beliefs Theorists (copy)

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Functional Definition of Religion

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Sociology

117 Terms

1

Functional Definition of Religion

-Defines religion based on what it does for people / its psychological impact

-Criticised as too inclusive

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Substantive Definition of Religion

-Defines religion based on the content, usually including a metaphysical force or being

-Criticised as too exclusive (e.g. excludes Buddism)

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Social constructionist Definition of Religion

-It is impossible to create a single definition for religion as it means different things to everyone

-Difficult to Operationalise

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4

Durkheim

-Functionalist

-Religion is a ‘unified system of beliefs and practices relating to sacred things’, and each sacred thing has a representation

-Studied Arunta tribe and their ‘totemism’ and argued if the totem is a symbol of God and Society are they not just one?

-Maintains social order as it legitimises the workings of society itself, reinforcing collective conscience

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Malinowski

-Functionalist

-Religion reinforces social norms, values and promotes social solidarity

-Allows people to cope with emotional stress, and ceremonies help deal with crises of life e.g. marriage, death

-Trobiand islanders valued religious ritual

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Parsons

-Functionalist

-Cultural systems, including religion, provide general guidelines for behaviour based on beliefs and values

-Creates secondary socialisation

-For example the 10 commandments: “thou shalt not kill”, “thou shalt not steal”

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Bellah

-Functionalist

-Popularised ‘civil religion’ of Americanism which unites people in their belief in and loyalty to the state, due to their ambiguous use of ‘God’

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Shils and Young

-Functionalist

-Talk about the reaffirming effects of the coronation as part of civil religion as it brought the nation together

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Criticisms of Functionalism

-Ignores dysfunctional aspects of religion

-Birnbaum does not see coronation as significant: argues it is merely a holiday and has no relevance

-It cannot explain social change as sometimes religion resists social order

-Durkheim’s ideas overstate the case of religion being the worship of society

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Marx

-Marxist

-Called religion the ‘opium of the people’: it helps people cope with capitalism, helps to ease the pain of exploitation and oppression

-It justifies and legitimises the suffering of the WC (false class consciousness) e.g. ‘divine right of kings’ and ‘Hindu caste system’

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11

Lenin

-Marxist

-’Religion is a spiritual gin’ confusing the working class and keeping them in their place

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F.A.I.L

-Marx’s view of religion: a conservative force

False Class Consciousness (disorts oppression)

A product of alienation (helps to cope)

Ideological (passes on ruling class ideas)

Legitimises WC suffering

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13

Engles

-Marxist

-Religion can lead to revolutionary social change, such as early Christians going against roman rule

-Gives hope against exploitation

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14

Billings

-Marxist

-Studied WC protestant coal miners and textile workers (Dual Character of Religion)

-Miners were more militant against poor conditions and were encouraged to speak out, textile workers were not supported and expected to be meek

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Bloch

-Marxist

-Described religion as a dual character, as it can inhibit change but also provide a ‘principle of hope’, or dreams of a better life, inspiring change

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Gramsci

-Neo Marxist

-Beliefs can be as real and important as economic forces: recognises the hegemony of the Catholic Church in supporting ruling class interests but said that religion doesn’t always play this role

-Religion doesn’t always pass on the dominant ideology, but can create a counter-hegemony

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Maduro

-Neo Marxist

-Religion does have some independence from the economic system and it can sometimes be revolutionary

-Liberation Theology: Latin American clergy have been increasingly critical of oppressive regimes and have been involved in popular struggle

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Criticisms of Marxism

-Religion still exists in communist societies

-Marx’s views are too deterministic - the middle class can also be religious and it can be separate from the economy

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Armstrong

-Feminist

-Polythesism had Goddesses and celebrated females for being close to nature

-Male aggression shown in the invasion of these societies by male-dominated cultures meant the introduction of monotheism dominated by a male God and allowing patriarchy

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Feminism & Religious Passages

-Some orthodox Jewish men include “Blessed art thou O Lord that I was not born a woman”

-Christianity is inherently patriarchal and includes “Wives be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord”

-Eve and Mary serve to reinforce patriarchal ideas about the dangers of female sexuality

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21

Feminism and Religious Organisations

-Women’s bodies and sexualities are seen as a threat and distracting in many religions

-Islamic Groups, Orthodox Jews and the Catholic Church continue to exclude women from the religious hierarchy

-”Women against the ordination of women” say full acceptance of women is blastphemous

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22

Daly

-Feminist

-Christianity is a patriarchal myth as it eliminated ‘Goddess religions’ and it ‘embodies patriarchy’

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23

de Beauvoir

-Feminist

-Religion is oppressive to women and compensates them for their second class status

-It gives them the false view they will be compensated for their suffering on earth by equality in heaven

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El Saadawi

-Feminist

-Does not blame religion in itself but the patriarchal domination of religion that came with the development of monotheistic religions

-Men wrote the scriptures and therefore their interpretations are male-orientated and used as a tool for oppression

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Woodhead

-Feminist

-Criticises equating religion with patriarchy and argues there are ‘religious forms of feminism’ where women use it to gain greater freedom and respect

-e.g. Wearing Hijab can be seen as a form of liberation (Watson)

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Cohen and Kennedy

-Feminist

-”The desire to restore fundamentalist religious values and social practices is associated with the fear that any real increase in women’s freedom of choice and action will undermine the foundations of tradition, morality and male control”

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Religion in a Globalised World

-It is being used as a reaction in times of uncertainty

-It is used as a cultural defense

-It is part of a ‘clash of civilisations’

-It is aiding economic development

-In a postmodern world it is more diverse

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Fundamentalism

-Seek a return to tradition, and the basics/fundamentals of their faith

-Arises when traditional beliefs and values are threatened or challenged by modern society

-Key features include an authoritative sacred text, intolerance, aggression, conspiracy and use of modern technology

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29

Davis

-Globalisation (Fundamentalism)

-Fundamentalism is occurring as those who hold traditional beliefs feel threatened by modernity and need to defend themselves

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Giddens

-Globalisation (Fundamentalism)

-It is a product and reaction to globalisation which undermines traditional social norms

-Offers rigid faith in a risky uncertain world

-Defines fundamentalists as traditionalists compared to cosmopolitanism

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31

Castelles

-Globalisation (Fundamentalism)

-Distinguishes two responses to postmodernity: a resistance identity (defensive) and project identity (looking forward)

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Bruce

-Globalisation (Fundamentalism)

-Defines fundamentalism as being confined to monotheistic religions as they believe God’s will is revealed in a single, authoritative text

-In the west it is a response to change and diversity within a society whereas in the third world it is a response to changes being thrust upon society from the outside

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Davie

-Globalisation (Fundamentalism)

-Recently secular fundamentalism has emerged

-Distinguishes between 2 phases of modernity: the first phase gave rise to religious fundamentalism (due to science undermining beliefs) and the second phase is giving rise to secular fundamentalism (as pessimism and uncertainty has caused fear)

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34

Huntington

-Globalisation (Fundamentalism)

-Globalisation is leading to a ‘clash of civilisations’ and religious differences are a major source of conflict as they create ‘them and us’ mentality

-Identifies 7 civilisations: Islam, West, Latin America, China, Japan, Hindu and Slavic-Orthodox

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35

Bruce

-Globalisation (Defense)

-One function of religion in a globalised society is cultural defense, where it serves to unite a community against a global threat

-e.g. Poland 1945-1989 against communism

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36

Nanda

-Globalisation

-The urban middle class are becoming more religious due to ambivalence about their new wealth: there is tension between their new prosperity and the traditional Hindu belief that renounces materialism

-This is resolved by modern holy men preaching desire is not a bad thing

-Hinduism also encourages ‘indian ultra nationalism’

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37

Redding

-Globalisation

-East Asian Tiger economies are the result of ‘spirit of capitalism’ among Chinese entrepreneurs as their post-Confucian values encourage hard work, self discipline and commitment to education

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38

Postmodernism

-Characterised by instability, fragmentation and media saturation where image and reality are indistinguishable

-Scientific Rationality, Globalisation, Technological development affect society

-Due to consumerism, media growth, middle class occupations and identity growth

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39

Lyotard

-Postmodernism

-All accounts of reality are valid and we should recognise and celebrate the diversity of ideas

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40

Baudrillard

-Postmodernism

-Postmodern society is based on the buying and selling of knowledge via images and signs, becoming a simulacra

-This has replaced trade of material goods and has little relationship to material society

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Davie

-Postmodernism and Religion

-Religion is not declining but is taking a more privatised form

-’Believing without Belonging’ where people hold religious beliefs without necessarily attending church every week (criticism: in attitude surveys both belief and attendance are declining)

-Vicarious religion is increasing - where a minority attend on the behalf of a majority

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Hervieur-Leger

-Postmodernism and religion

-’Cultural Amnesia’ has increased where religious belief and obligation is no longer passed between generations (criticism: religion still influences societal values)

-People have become ‘spiritual shoppers’ where belief is individualised

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43

Lyon

-Postmodernism and religion

-Globalisation has caused religion to be disembedded: people can source guidance and satisfy belief without actually attending church e.g. televangelism / Jesus in disneyland

-Loss in faith in meta narratives, increasing non-traditional religion and ‘pick and mix’ faith

-(Criticism: No evidence potential converts are attracted to religious programming)

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44

Secularisation Theory

-Religion is declining

-Postmodernists challenge this and say it is just changing form

-Davie argues there is ‘multiple modernities’ e.g. Britain and America are both modern societies but have different patterns of religion

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Stark and Bainbridge (R.M.T)

-See secularisation theory as Eurocentric as it fails to explain maintained religion in America etc

-Religious market theory is based on 2 assumptions:

  1. People are naturally religious and religion meets human needs - it is only demand for particular types that varies

  2. Its human nature to weigh up rewards and costs, so people weigh up different costs and benefits of available options

-Propose a cycle of religious decline, revival and renewal so when some decline others grow (cults)

-(Criticism: Statistics show diversity is accompanied by religious decline in Europe/America/Australia)

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Norris and Inglehart (E.S.T)

-Existential Security Theory: Variations in religiosity between societies is not due to different degrees of choice, rather different degrees of existential security

-The feeling survival is secure enough to be taken for granted

-In societies where people feel secure there is less demand for religion

-(Criticism: Only used Quantitative Data, ignore positive reasons for religion)

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Gill and Lundegaarde

-Support Existential Security Theory

-Argue the more a country spends on welfare, the lower the level of religious participation

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48

Church

-Institutional religion, large organisations with millions of members and associated with a state

-Run by a hierarchy of professional priests and claim a monopoly of truth

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49

Sect

-A small, exclusive group with no professional clergy

-Demand total commitment from members, are hostile to wider society and offer a monopoly of truth

-Led by a charismatic leader and involve a split from the church

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Denomination

-A midway between Churches and Sects, represents a splinter group from the established church religion

-Membership is less exclusive and is less demanding, impose minor restrictions

-Tolerant and don’t claim monopoly of truth

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Cult

-Least organised and most informal organisation

-Highly individualistic, loose knit and are usually a small group around some shared themes and interests

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Wallis

-NRMs

-Categorises NRMs into 3 groups

  1. World Affirming: Offer followers access to spiritual powers and accept the world as it is

  2. World Accomodating: Breakaways from existing mainstream, focus on religious over worldly matters

  3. World Rejecting: Highly critical of outside world and seek radical change, conservative morals

-(Criticism: Ignores diversity, some NRMs dont fit)

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Weber

-NRMs

-Sects offer a solution to those who feel disprivileged, and offer an explanation for their disadvantage (theodicy of disprivilege)

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Stark and Bainbridge

-NRMs

-It is the relatively deprived who break from churches to form sects, who feel they are protecting the message of the organisation

-Middle class people may feel spiritually deprived

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Wilson

-NRMs

-Periods of rapid social change disrupts and undermines established norms and values, producing anomie or normlessness. Sects are a solution to this

-e.g. industrial revolution lead to growth of methodism, for community and friendship

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Bruce

-NRMs

-The growth of sects is a response to social changes involved with modernisation and secularisation

-People now prefer cults as they are less demanding

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Spiritual Voids

People join sects or new religious movements because they feel science is not answering their questions

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Wallis (Youth & NRMs)

-NRMs

-Young people have traditionally been attracted to world rejecting NRMs as they lack adult committments, and thrive on the committment an NRM offers

-As gap between child and adulthood widens NRMs provide certainty and community in a time of uncertainty

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Middle Class & NRMs

-Those who are married and Middle class are more likely to join a ‘world affirming’ sect as while they are not materially deprived, they often seek spirituality

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Neibur

-NRMs

-Sects are short lived and die out or compromise within a generation, due to 3 reasons:

  1. The second generation - are born into the sect and lack commitment

  2. The Protestant ethic effect - Sects that practice hard work and saving become prosperous and have to compromise with the world

  3. Death of the Leader - Often sects rely on a charasmatic leader, when they die it collapses or a formal leadership takes over

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Stark and Bainbridge

-NRMs

-Say Neibur is too simplistic and propose the secretarian cycle:

  1. Schism: The break away from the church due to a tension in needs of deprived/privileged

  2. Initial Fervor: Charasmatic leadership and tension between the sect/society

  3. Denominationalism: Protestant ethic effect and coolness of 2nd gen means fervor disappears

  4. Establishment: Sect becomes more accepting

  5. Further Schism: More zealous members break away to find a new sect

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Wilson

-NRMs

-Argues not all sects adhere to sectarian cycle: whether they do or not depends on ‘what shall we do to be saved’

  1. Conversionists - Sects who’s aim is to convert large numbers of people (become denomination)

  2. Adventist - Sects such as JW believe to be saved they must keep themselves seperate from the corrupt world around them

-Argues some sects have survived over generations without becoming denominations: instead they establish themselves

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63

Heelas and Woodhead

-NRMs

-There has been a growth of the new age, which covers around 2000 activities and 146,000 practitioners

-Two common themes:

  1. Self-Spirituality: People look inside themselves for spirituality

  2. De-traditionalisation: The spiritual authority of external traditional sources is rejected and personal experience is valued

-Arguably meta narratives have failed to offer the truth

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64

Bruce

-NRMs

-New age movement is just a phase in late modernity, as society values individualism ‘pick n mix spiritual shopping’

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Women and New Age Movements

-As women are more associated with nature and a healing role they can be more attracted to NAMs, as they give them higher status and self word

-Heelas and Woodhead - Kendal project found 80% of ‘holistic milieu’ were female

-Bruce - Womens experience of child rearing makes them less aggressive and more caring

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Gender and Religiosity

-Women are more religiously active (57% of church attendees were women - 2005)

-Twice as many women than men in sects (Bruce)

-80% of ‘Holistic Milieu’ in Kendal project were female (Heelas and Woodhead)

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Hoffman

-Gender and Religiosity

-Women express greater interest in religion, have greater personal commitment and attend church more

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Miller & Hoffman

-Gender and Religiosity

-Offer 3 reasons why women are more religious:

  1. Differential socialisation: women are taught to be passive and submissve

  2. Structural locations: women are less involved in work and have more free time

  3. Risk: women are more risk averse and fear going to hell (Bruce disagrees and argues religion has affinity with feminine traits)

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Davie

-Gender and Religiosity

-Women are closer to questions of life and death: as they are more likely to be carers

-More focused on ‘ultimate questions’ about the meaning of life

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Gender & Social Class & Religiosity

-Working class women tend to follow religious groups where they are more passive

-Middle class women are more interested in forms of spirituality that facilitate personal growth

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Gender & Religiosity today

-Women do continue with higher rates of attendance than men, but are also leaving the church at a faster rate than men

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Ethnicity & Religiosity

-72% of the UK population is Christian, though there are many Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus origniating from the Indian subcontinent

-Many Christians are of Black African or Caribbean origin and ethnic minorities as a whole are more likely to see religion as important

-Black Christians make up 40% of all Pentecostal Church membership

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73

Modood et al

-Ethnicity & Religiosity

-Found a decline in the importance of religion for all ethnic groups, especially among the second generation

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74

Globalisation & Ethnicity & Religiosity

-Many ethnic minorities come from poorer countries where religion is more highly valued, and so bring this with them and maintains the pattern through their children

-This arguably disregards the role of their experiences as minorities in a new society

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75

Cultural Defense (Bruce)

-Ethnicity & Religiosity

-Religion offers support and a sense of cultural identity in an unfamiliar or hostile environment

-Religion among minorities can be a basis for community solidarity and coping with racism e.g. white churches didn’t welcome black people so they went to Pentecostal churches (Bird)

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76

Cultural Transition

-Ethnicity & Religiosity

-Religion can be used to ease the transition into a new culture, which is an explaination for high religion levels among first gen USA immigrants, however once a group has made the transition this may decline

-There also may be strong family pressure to retain committment

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77

Age & Religiosity

-The older a person is, the more likely they are to attend religious services (with 2 exceptions:)

-Under 15s have high levels of attendance, as they go with parents

-Over 65s have lower attendance as they are more likely to be ill or disabled

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78

Voas and Crockett

-Age & Religiosity

-Identify two main explainations for age difference in religious participation:

  1. The ageing effect: people turn to religion as they are approaching death, as we ‘naturally’ get more concerned about spiritual matters

  2. The generational effect: as society becomes more secular each new generation is less religious

-Pentecostal churches however go against this trend

-Young people are attracted to world rejecting NRMs

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79

Working Class & Religiosity

-Marxists argue religion continues to serve class inequality and keeps the working class ‘in their place’ by enabling false class consciousness

-Weber suggests sects appeal to the margianalised by offering ‘theodicy of disprivilige’

-Liberation theology suggests the WC can utilise religion to support their own interests

-Poorer countries have high religiosity due to instability (existential security theory)

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80

Middle Class & Religiosity

-MC are more likely to participate in CoE services, arguably as elite are part of establishment

-NRMs appeal to middle class as they overcome relative deprevation

-World Rejecting NRMs target young MC e.g. moonies and scientology

-Weber Protestant ethic & Nanda’s Hinduism

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81

Weber

-’Protestant work ethic’ helped to develop Capitalism

-Calvanists worked hard and saved, becoming the emergent middle class, explaining the link between economic success and religious faith

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82

Troeltsch

-Class & Religiosity

-Lower social classes were more likely to join sects e.g. ‘Jim Jones people temple’

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83

Religion as a Conservative Force

-Functionalists argue it provides morals/values which are passed through generations

-Marxists argue it maintains class inequality

-Feminists argue it maintains patriarchy

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84

Weber

-Religion as a force for social change

-”The protestant work ethic & spirit of capitalism” argued religion can be a major influence on economic behaviour

-Calvinists believed in pre-destination so avoided hopelessness by thinking if an individual prospers in work/life they were one of the ‘elect’

-This prompted the idea of working hard and reinvesting in your work

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85

American Civil Rights

-Religion as a force for social change (Bruce)

-Black clergy were able to shame whites into changing the law by appealing to the shared christian value of equality - religion played an ‘ideological resource’

-Black clergy were the backbone of the movement and churches provided a place of sanctuary

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86

New Christian Right (NCR)

-Religion as a force for social change (Bruce)

-Attempted to ‘take America back to God’ in response to liberalism / restore traditional belief

-Bruce argues this is a failed movement as campaigners find it hard to co-operate with other religious groups / lacks widespread support

-Protest groups need to appeal to democratic values

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87

Fundamentalism and Religious Change

-Religion as a force for social change

-Religion plays a conservative role but also promotes social change as it ‘restores’ traditional values

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88

Crockett

-Secularisation

-Based on 1851 census estimated 40% or more of the adult population attended church on a Sunday

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89

Wilson

-Secularisation

-Western societies had been undergoing term process of secularisation (where religious institutions lose social significance)

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90

40% / 10-15% / 6.3%

-Church attendance (Sundays) 19th century / 1960s / 2005

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91

3/5 vs 1/3

Weddings that take place in a church 1971 vs 2006

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92

Gill

-Secularisation

-Reviewed almost 100 surveys on religious belief 1939-1996 and showed a significant decline in the belief of a personal God / Jesus / traditional teachings

-When asked if they would describe themselves as being of any religion 23% said no in 1950, increased to 43% by 1996

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93

45,000 vs 34,000

-Number of clergy 1900 vs 2000

-Shows decline in influence of religion as an institution: though 26 bishops still sit in the House of Lords

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94

Modernisation

-The decline of tradition and its replacement with rational and scientific ways of thinking - has lead to a decline in religion

-Also emphasises effect of social change on religion e.g. industrialisation has broke up small communities

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95

Rationalisation

-Where rational ways of thinking and acting come to replace religious ones

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96

Weber

-Secularisation

-The protestant reformation initiated rationalisation in the west as it allowed people to question their beliefs

-Events were no longer seen as the work of supernatural beings, but as the predictable work of natural forces

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97

Bruce

-Secularisation

-The growth of a technological worldview has replaced religious or supernatural explainations of why things happen

-We look for scientific and technological explanations which means religious explanations only survive in places where technology is ineffective

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98

Parsons

-Secularisation

-”Structural Differentiation” where specialised institutions develop to do jobs done previously by just one

-This has happened to religion as it dominated pre-industrial society but many of those functions have now transferred, so has lost its influence

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99

Berger

-Secularisation

-Caused by religious diversity where one organisation cannot just be dominant

-We used to live in a ‘sacred canopy’ under soley catholic belief but the protestant reformation enabled the challenging of beliefs

-Diversity undermines religion’s ‘plausability structure’

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100

Bruce

-Secularisation

-Cultural defense and transition are associated with higher religious participation and go against secularisation theory

-Argues religion survives only because it’s a group identity: shows religion survives where it has other functions

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